After a few hours of blowing my cheeks out and pulling weird faces because this feels impossible to review, I’ll try my best at putting my thoughts into words that are remotely coherent.
Chrissie, an eight year old girl murdered a two year old boy by strangling him. That is no spoiler, we know this from the very first sentence.
‘I killed a little boy today. Held my hands around his throat, felt his blood pump hard against my thumbs’.
What follows is a dual narrative from Chrissie then and Chrissie now.
As an adult, she is Julia. She has a new identity and a daughter of her own, Molly. She is haunted by her terrible past, not only by her heinous crime, but by the truly horrific neglect from her Mam and useless excuse of a Da. She is scared for her own child, incase she has passed her ‘bad seed’ onto her own.
As a child, the unintentional humour from Chrissie is balanced with the horrors of her home life. The writing is styled to shock and then say ‘there there, it’s not that bad’ in a heartbeat.
‘There were lots of reasons I didn’t like Donna, apart from her being fat and a goody-goody, but the main one was that in the Christmas holidays she bit me on the arm just because I said she had a face like a potato (which was also true)’.
I felt the author wasn’t necessarily asking for sympathy for any of the characters. I think she wanted her readers to experience the buzzes and urges, the excuses and thought processes. I got right inside this story. Gut deep.
The First Day of Spring as a title gives nothing away to what’s between the covers. We see Springtime as new beginnings, fresh growth and hope for the future. We don’t associate it with despair and neglect and murder.
Although this sounds like a disturbing and saddening read, it was exceptionally entertaining throughout. The dialogue and descriptions were sublime, creating crystal clear imagery of characters and setting.
The First Day of Spring is an unforgettable debut, but it won’t be for everyone. It’s a difficult subject, I know a few were struggling with it on Pigeonhole, but me and my dark heart lapped it up. I consumed it and it consumed me.
Thank you to everyone at Pigeonhole for the opportunity to read such a compelling book.